Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Thu Oct 15 2009 - 18:55:40 EDT


Since your post was in reply to me, I'm going to ask you for some backup as
well. Where did I accuse Eugenie Scott, the NABT, or the NCSE of having
"anti-Christian sentiment"? I said that the myopic focus on evolution, the
proclaimed importance of securing "belief in evolution", the actions of the
NABT, and other issues/events indicate that there's far more at work here
than some simple and general concern with science and science education. But
I made no reference to some specific 'anti-Christian' sentiment - and that's
because I don't think this boils down to opposition to some single religious
viewpoint, much less some singular anti-Christian bigotry. So I'd like to
know where you're getting that from.

Either way, I already wrote up some of my reasoning of why the NABT's past
actions, and Scott's 'criticism/defense' of the NABT, is problematic - so,
there you have it for now.

On Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 6:39 PM, Dennis Venema <> wrote:

> As a member of both the NCSE and NABT (as well as the ASA) I feel
> compelled to comment on this issue.
> I have met Eugenie personally, and though I do not know her well, I have
> heard her speak on several occasions. She is not an anti- theist, or if she
> is, she hides it extremely well! I am saddened to see her motives maligned
> on this listserve. The NCSE does valuable work supporting school boards who
> wish for their science teachers to be free of inappropriate pressure from
> outside sources. The NCSE has also taken flak from the New Atheist movement
> for “promoting religion” by promoting examples of scientists who hold that
> science and faith are compatible.
> In my years of involvement with NABT I have similarly not sensed any
> anti-Christian sentiment. There is a frustration with anti-science / YECism
> / OECism to be sure, but that is specified as not being anti-faith. Francis
> Collins was an invited speaker at the NABT annual conference recently, for
> goodness sake.
> So yes, I hold that the NCSE and NABT are acting in good faith and with
> honest motivations. Those that wish to argue otherwise are requested to
> provide evidence to back up their allegations.
> Dennis
> On 15/10/09 4:47 AM, "Schwarzwald" <> wrote:
> Heya Merv,
> I'm all for being charitable. But I'm also for being frank, and for
> avoiding what I think is a very common mistake of being charitable to the
> point of blindness or naivete. Sometimes people are dishonest (let's call it
> 'politically savvy'). Sometimes a proclaimed goal isn't the real goal. That
> should come as no surprise to anyone in this discussion, since ID proponents
> are routinely accused of "really meaning" other than what they say. To give
> the common example: Behe, Dembski and others say that ID merely infers
> design, and doesn't/can't identify the designer? Nonsense! It's the
> Christian God - maybe even the YEC God - and they know it! ID is merely
> religion, stealth creationism! Etc, etc. So I don't think I'm breaking any
> particular taboo by pointing out the elephant in the room and noting that,
> no, this is not entirely or even mostly about science. Just like "true
> science" wasn't the real issue with Lysenkoism, or with various other
> events/disputes in history.
> I want to stress again - I said this was utterly apart from any
> considerations about teaching ID in school, and I meant it. I refer again to
> the NABT event, and particularly one line of argument Eugenie Scott
> supposedly used to convince the NABT to back off on their position (namely,
> political maneuvering). I refer to the repeated use of the metric of "how
> many Americans believe in evolution", of the expressed importance of getting
> Americans to believe in evolution. I could go on with examples, but again, I
> find it very difficult to believe no one else notices that 'science
> education' so often boils down to 'belief [again, not understanding of, but
> proclaimed belief] in evolution' - and how this in turn illustrates that
> concern for "true science" isn't exactly central here. To illustrate this in
> another way: Does anyone really believe that the 'What the bleep do we
> know?' movie had as its goal nothing more than an honest promotion of "true
> science", as opposed to more mystical and metaphysical ideas? I think the
> cases are, in many important ways, very similar.
> Notice I'm not making any reference here to ID's treatment or legality in
> schools. And no, I don't think this is about a fight in the name of "true
> science". That's precisely my point - I think "true science" in this case is
> largely a bluff, a rallying cry in the service of other goals. All I'm doing
> is calling attention to that. I think all anyone has to do is notice this
> wildly disproportionate focus on 'getting people to believe evolution'
> (Notice that this isn't limited to what's taught in classrooms,
> incidentally) to realize how empty the 'we just think science education is
> important!' claim is. And again, I say this as a TE, as someone who thinks
> evolution is one more tool God uses. It's not as if evolution (not to
> mention other science) hasn't been promoted and used in the past for other
> purposes - it should come as no surprise that it's taking place once more.
> I think your (and Cameron's) characterization of everyone else's
> motivations (i.e. Eugenie Scott in particular) is being uncharitable. I
> can imagine her responding that it isn't her that chose to have this
> insanely intense focus on evolution to the exclusion of all else. It was
> the politically active creationists. And because of *their* intense attack,
> she and others will rise to defend what she sees as sound science precisely
> at the point of that attack: evolution. In other words, this could reduce
> to a case of the "he started it first!" epithet being thrown back & forth.
> If people were lobbying legislatures to try to prevent gravity from being
> taught in physics classes, then gravity would become the new "litmus test"
> that the NCSE and there would be insanely disproportionate focus on that.
> Having said all this, though --I actually do agree with you that both
> "sides" are off center on this one because of the stark tension between them
> in their unscientific dance with each other. They are whirling around,
> unwilling to let go because each perceives that if they let go, their
> nemesis will suddenly triumph at the expense of "true science". These dance
> partners definitely need to be broken up. I don't know Eugene Scott that
> well, but I doubt that she is really "anti-religious", though I don't doubt
> she is anti-ID which is probably what has your ire up --and maybe rightly
> so. A fair and impartial hearing for ID may have been an unfortunate
> casualty in the cross-fire between political creationism and political
> evolution defenders.
> --Merv

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Received on Thu Oct 15 18:55:58 2009

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